The Cashion defense pitches its first shutout of the season, holding the Prague Red Devils to 126 yards of total offense. [Photo by Brad Stone]

After a dominant win over Drumright last week, Cashion returned home for their first home game of the season against Class 2A Prague. One thing that is clear after these first two weeks is that the Wildcats have a stifling defense.

The first two drives of the game were a little choppy for both teams; The Wildcats went three-and-out on their first offensive drive. Their first go-around defensively showed them containing Prague’s offense, but not stopping them while Prague’s offense didn’t look good, but did enough to win the time of possession in the first half. After Prague took over on downs, they kept the ball for six minutes and they ran 17 plays. Subsequently, there was nothing to show for it. Cashion bent, but they didn’t break while trying to find their defensive rhythm in the first quarter. 

Offensively they struggled too. Two big runs for a combined 26 yards from T.J. Roberts were hampered by a penalty, which two plays later resulted in the Wildcats turning the ball over on downs. 

“We thought we might bend but not break defensively early on,” said head coach Lynn Shackelford. “I thought offensively we would play a lot better, but when you put yourself in second, third-and-long it makes things hard.”

The second quarter started slowly like the first, with Prague able to mount another five-minute drive, but you could see the gears turning for Cashion. The defense gradually improved over the length of the quarter, but Prague was doing the epitome of ‘hanging around.’ The Wildcats’ big break came when senior defensive back Austin Vandruff intercepted a pass, setting his offense up for success. Brexten Green capitalized on the great field position with an 18-yard touchdown reception from Ben Harman. The teams went into the break with Cashion up 7-0. 

Both teams were working off the rust in the first half offensively, but Shackelford’s gameplan out of halftime worked. The Wildcats kept up their piercing defensive attack and exploited Prague’s weaknesses as soon as the second half started. Just three minutes into the quarter, Cashion’s Roberts scored on a touchdown run. On the ensuing defensive possession, Prague was forced to a three-and-out and Cashion quickly got the ball back, but Harman threw an interception immediately, giving the ball right back to Prague. This was the perfect break for the visiting team and a prime opportunity for them to get points on the board and narrow the Wildcats’ lead.

Cashion did such a great job defensively in key situations. Every time Prague got some momentum on the offensive end, Cashion reminded them how dangerous they are on defense. On Prague’s drive following the interception, the Wildcats forced yet another turnover and orchestrated a long touchdown drive, led by two 20-yard runs by Roberts, which pretty much iced the victory in Cashion’s first home game of the season. 

“We didn’t have any penalties in the second half,” said Shackelford when asked about the vast improvement offensively after halftime. “When you can get a little bit of momentum going and don’t shoot yourself in the foot, you can move the ball and score some points.”

T.J. Roberts and Brexten Green had big nights on offense for Cashion. Roberts finished the game with 11 carries for 158 yards and one touchdown. Green caught four balls for 72 yards. Quarterback Ben Harmon completed 11 of his 19 passes for 152 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. On defense, Caden Harrell led the team with 13 tackles, Bryce Miller recorded 11 and Sam Brown recorded 10. As a team, Cashion rushed for 187 yards, threw for 157, and held Prague to only 99 yards on 60 carries and 126 yards of total offense. 

Cashion won’t play this Friday but will return to the field on Sept. 20 where they’ll play their rivals from down the street, Crescent.